This Apologia seeks to demonstrate, with reference to the most prominent objections which have been raised against AL, that it neither contradicts nor even develops the doctrine of the Church. Rather it shows that while AL changes Church teaching, in the sense of its disciplines, these changes are of a purely pastoral nature which are within the authority of the Pope to alter.
The objections raised to the orthodoxy of AL, and the main replies provided by this Apologia, are briefly summarised below.
- Objection – As outlined in the first Dubia, it is not possible to admit to the Sacraments the D&R not living in complete continence, given they are in a state of objective grave sin.
- Reply – The teaching of the Church before AL already acknowledged only subjective mortal sin, not merely objective grave sin, precludes the fruitful reception of the Sacraments. Further the Church acknowledged the D&R may have mitigating factors which reduce culpability, so their objectively grave sin may subjectively be merely venial.
- Objection – As outlined in the second, fourth and fifth Dubia, adultery is intrinsically evil and prohibited without exception, and can never be determined to be subjective good or justified by conscience.
- Reply – The teaching of the Church before AL already acknowledged mitigating factors can reduce culpability for intrinsic evils, as mitigating factors limit guilt for rather than permit such evils.
- Objection – As referred to in the third Dubia, it is not possible to admit to the Sacraments the D&R not living in complete continence, given they obstinately persist in manifest grave sin which would give rise to public scandal.
- Reply – While the teaching of the Church before AL assumed the objectively grave sin of the D&R was always manifest (i.e. public) based on the civil legal recognition, consistent with the approach of the Church to other objectively grave sins (7.0 Slippery Slope), AL provides that pastorally speaking it may not always be public in a way which rise to a risk of public scandal. This novel approach of AL is doctrinally possible, as being public is not intrinsic to the nature of marriage, but rather must be assessed as a matter of empirical fact.
- Objection – As FC 84 bases its exclusion of the D&R not living in complete continence from Holy Communion upon Sacred Scripture, the exclusion is of itself an unchangeable doctrinal proposition.
- Reply – The Sacred Scripture in question is Mark 10:2-12 etc, which confirms that the D&R commit adultery, and therefore only doctrinally precludes an approach which contradicts this divine law. However AL does not so contradict, as it neither denies the absolute indissolubility of marriage (8.0 Indissolubility) nor the intrinsic nature of the evil of adultery (2.0 Intrinsic Evil).
- Objection – FC 84 gives as its primary reason for the exclusion of the D&R not living in complete continence from Holy Communion that they objectively contradict the Eucharist, which is separate to the special pastoral reason it gives, being scandal regarding the indissolubility of marriage.
- Reply – The teaching of the Church on this objective contradiction show it relates to public scandal in relation to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, rather than in relation to the Sacrament of Marriage as separately mentioned by FC 84. Accordingly, as shown at 3.0 Public Scandal, objective contradiction does not doctrinally preclude the approach of AL.
- Objection – As the exclusion of the D&R not living in complete continence from Holy Communion has been the constant and unchanging practice of the Church, the exclusion is of itself an unchangeable doctrinal proposition.
- Reply – Doctrine is propositional, and accordingly even the constant practice of the Church can’t be unchangeable unless it evidences some underlying doctrinal proposition. However, as shown at 1.0 Mortal Sin and 3.0 Public Scandal, the propositions underlying the Traditional exclusion of the D&R not living in complete continence from Holy Communion don’t doctrinally preclude the approach of AL.
- Objection – The application of the principles in AL will extend to other objectively grave sins, such as same-sex relations, abortion, suicide / euthanasia, artificial contraception etc, impairing the witness of the Church against these grave evils.
- Reply – The teaching of the Church before AL already admitted to the Sacraments those whom commit other objectively grave sins, on a case by case basis in accordance with precisely the same principles as provided by AL.
- Objection – If it is possible to admit to the Sacraments the D&R not living in complete continence, the dogma of the indissolubility of marriage is effectively denied.
- Reply – AL does not accept any proposal to allow second marriages, such as oikonomia, but rather reaffirms the indissolubility of marriage. Further, while its approach may be considered less prophetic, AL explicitly denies its pastoral approach can be considered a weakening of its faith in indissolubility.
Accordingly it is acknowledged AL changes Church teaching and sacramental discipline, in that it allows contrary to the perennial practice of the Church there are circumstances where it is possible to admit the D&R not living in complete continence to Holy Communion.
However, the novelty underlying this change is merely a reassessment of when the objectively grave sin of the D&R is manifest / public, such Holy Communion must be denied to prevent public scandal. This reassessment does not contradict nor even develops the doctrine of the Church, as it relates to an assessment of empirical facts to which doctrine is applied, which cannot of itself be unchangeable doctrine.